Monday, 30 September 2019

Testing, testing...123!

Hello, Lovelies!

Yep, it is Moi on a Tuesday with a few thoughts.
Just a reminder: THIS coming Friday is the release of Part 1 * the Extension * for the Golden Tea Floral Block. You're going to hate me! It's A LOT of repetition and A LOT of needlework *sorry, not sorry*. Unfortunately, it just had to be this ( you'll have to wait until Friday to see what "this" is ). All I can say is, the crochet Muses made me do it!

Ok, so on to my "thoughts". Firstly, this is not about me but rather my response to an outrageous "Tester Application Form" that is circulating Crochetland and which was forwarded to my email.

This has been a bugbear for me since I designed my very first pattern. Unbeknown to me at the time, in Crochetland, there lives wonderful magical creatures called Testers ( not a pretty name for such lovelies ). These "Testers" will contact you and offer their skills FOR FREE! Immediately my very first pattern was released I was swamped with messages from these amazing Folk and I jumped at the offers. However, it didn't take me long to start feeling very uncomfortable. This was free skilled labour that I was unwittingly exploiting. No matter which way I looked at it... I was exploiting the good nature of some extremely talented and experienced people and it made me squirm. Much!

Now, before you all start throwing balls of yarn at me let me say that I do understand that for many Testers there is some sort of fairy dust residue that settles over them when the person they Test for is a super-duper famous Designer! I get that! Also, some Testers are rewarded with Yarn ( at least ) for their troubles and a scant few may receive actual greenbacks for their skilled testing. All well and good. HOWEVER, many, many Testers do this for FREE, for the love of Crochet, to ride the coat-tails of celebrated Designers...and that too, if it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, is also OK. But none of that sits well with me at all. It never has. It never will.

I have had wonderful Testers contact me over the years, who all regularly test for well-known Designers. A few I accepted but all too soon, as I said, I began to feel very uncomfortable with the exchange of labour. I wasn't in a position to offer payment to a small posse of willing Testers. A free pattern somehow didn't feel sufficient. It's actually NOT sufficient payback. Reluctantly I decided that in all good conscience, I could not continue accepting Testers without remunerating them accordingly, for their experience, their time, their yarn, their hard work! So I cut my Testers loose.

In my head, I can hear the words " but we want to, we don't mind, it's what we do, it's an honour, it's satisfying, we get something out of it too". No, none of that sits well with me. In my heart of hearts, I know it is absolutely wrong to take advantage of these generous offers without reciprocating accordingly. I am truly shocked and disheartened that many Designers are comfortable with this free labour, this unequal exchange of energy. More chilling, is that some Designers have elevated their own status to such a level that they issue lengthly "Tester Application Forms" where there is no mention of what they are willing to offer back! Testers, you need to ask what a Designer is willing to do FOR YOU! You are worth it!

To the Designers who make great efforts to concretely reward their Testers, I salute you! To the Testers who give so freely of their time and experience, you are amazing!

Your time has value!
Your experience has value!
Your work has value!
You have value, and you should always bring your value to the negotiating table.
Many Designers would be absolutely lost without their loyal Testers. It shouldn't be enough that you get a mention ( if you're lucky! ) at the bottom of a pattern.

Yes, yes I know...there will probably be many Testers ( and Designers ) throwing their hooks at me right now but so be it. Testers, I love your generous hearts. You deserve so much more!

Over and out.

Friday, 20 September 2019


Hello, Lovelies! Hope you are all well in Crochetland?

I know many of you are hanging in there for the cooler Autumn weather but here in Sunny South Africa, the temperature dial has been notched up quite a bit. And I'm not ready for the sweaty months...waaaaaa! However, I'm sure you are all SO ready for cooler weather, right?

Yesterday, I did the symbolic seasonal clothes packing away. I have one beautiful antique wardrobe that is compartmentalised in such a way that it houses all my a point.  Come Spring, I have to pack away the woolly jumpers and other bulkier winter apparel to make space for my Spring/Summer wardrobe. Sounds fancy schmancy as if I have a ton of clothes, but no, I also do a disciplined thinning out ( those impulsive retail therapy items ), pack them into bags ready for collection by Tabisa and her little son who live in an informal settlement not far from where I live. There, the women sell used clothing to support their one-parent households. I find this whole clearing out exercise very rewarding. I enjoy regularly tidying up, even while I design when there is Yarn and Yarn fluff, snipped off tails, scissors, pens and notes liberally scattered across my worktable...I stop every now and then and tidy it all up! My brain begins to feel horribly messy and tangled when my living or creating environment is cluttered and disordered. I think one of my favourite things to buy are pretty storage boxes! No, I'm not a Marie Kondo fan, because BOOKS... I love them all and will never thin them out, you hear me Marie? I don't need that kind of negativity in my bookshelves! πŸ˜„

I wanted to tell you about an absolutely lovely book I ordered online recently ( which I have been reading during coffee breaks outside on the front steps of our house ). Called "A Stash of One's Own"  penned by Clara Parkes, it's aimed at Knitters but mostly at all of us who love and own, long for or hoard YARN! Yes, that is definitely ALL OF US! The book features personal essays from twenty-two well known Yarnarinas and it makes for very relatable reading.

This Friday the Colour Mood is most definitely COOL and CALM. Say no more, it's been a drama-filled year so far, for so many of us. Shooowee, crochet therapy has been needed in abundance.
Again, I've chosen Scheepjes Catona because !!ALL.THE. COLOURS!! but also, the inspiring colour names! Here we have: Root Beer, Brick Red, Antique Mauve, Topaz, Sky Blue and Baby Blue.

Many of you will have already picked up on the Final Part for our Golden Tea Floral Block which should be in your Ravelry Libraries? I've set Friday October 4 as the start date for the Golden Tea Extension and would love to have you all join me for another yarny adventure.

Here's Noelene's colourway which as always makes me regret all my colour choices. As many of you already know, Noelene Sampey is the amazing Admin of our HooksTales Pattern Workshop Group.

I've added ( better late than never ) a Colouring In Sheet so that you can play with colourways to your heart's content before making any Yarny commitments. I'm steadily working through making Colouring In Sheets for all my designs so look out for them ( on the Ravelry page for the pattern and also in the Workshop Group ). Here's an example of the Waresa Hexie Colouring In Sheet.

Next, our Friday GIVEAWAY! Three lucky Winners from last week's pattern Giveaway will find their "winnings" in their Ravelry Library so do scoot on over and check to see if it's your lucky day!
I absolutely fell in love with the beautifully whimsical Yura Wrap by talented crocheter, Jennifer Plonk. If you'd like to stand a chance of winning this lovely pattern all you have to do is comment, with your Ravelry name, in the comments section below. Good luck!

I'm so loving these cool, calm earthy colours. Sigh.

Hopefully, we will all have a wonderfully peace-filled weekend.
See you in Crochetland!

Friday, 13 September 2019

Friday 13, whooooooooo!

Hello, Yaranarinas and Happy Friday 13!

It's also a full moon, so whoooooooooooooooo! That's me doing a very quiet wolf howl seeing as everyone in my neighbourhood is still in dreamland!


I've been awake since the "witching hour" ( there is speculation on whether that's 3am or 4am ), woken suddenly by an incredible warning beforehand like a bit of wind or rumbles in the distance, just a short, but very intense cloudburst that had the Cats instantly awake and jumping out the window onto the verandah so they can "observe". Weird Cats who love the rain! You wouldn't think anything had happened because it's all sunlight, innocent blue skies and chirpy birds this morning. At 5am I recorded this....

Listening to that it's hard to imagine I live in a very urban neighbourhood where during the day you're more likely to hear construction work, ambulance, fire truck or police sirens ( sometimes there are gunshots at night! ), commuter trains whishing by every fifteen minutes, people yelling, dogs barking and of course Mr Noisy Neighbour on his motorbike! These early morning Chirpers mean more to me than I can express. They inspire me every day, without fail. When I'm ready to pack up and head for the hills I think of these feathered Earthlings, who, even with wings to fly off anywhere they want to, choose to stay. Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed, I allow a thought to pass... they are all here for me, my inspiration, my allies, my little friends, my consolation prize. Life is made up of small pleasures, tiny moments like these. It's all good.


So, today is the release of PART 2-Golden Tea Floral Block. Next Friday ( 20 September ) is the FINAL PART! The 3 x Parts are not released as separate Files. I've added each Part to the original pattern file so you should have only one file for the entire Block. Keep an eye open for your email or Ravelry message update. I've been very two minded about this whole design but then I start getting all excited about the Extension! I'm not exactly privy to what the bigger picture looks like but it somehow FEELS as if it's all going to work out. I'm reminded again of how crochet really is a material expression of our lives, in so many ways and there isn't a day that goes by when I don't thank my lucky stars for the coincidental meeting between student and teacher. Do you believe in Fate? I do!

I thought I'd answer this question next. Many of you ask where I get my inspiration from and if I am perfectly honest, and not trying to present an Instagrammable Life that looks idyllic from the outside...for me... it's a manifestation of my restrictive circumstances. Some of you may be aware of what's happening in South Africa at the moment and it's very disturbing, unsettling and frightening to say the very least. Daily ( sometimes hourly! ) I remind myself that so much good comes from challenging situations. Each day I see this manifesting itself in my immediate neighbourhood and farther afield. Local art, literature and theatre are flourishing! Communities are creatively expressing their frustration, sadness and anger too, but also pulling together. People are reaching out to each other as people do in uncertain times. Kindness, caring and support is everywhere in abundance. It's within this worrying undefinable atmosphere that I pick up hook and yarn and allow it to lead me where it will. It's strange, isn't it, how always in these spaces between tension, fear and angst that those of us who express ourselves, through Craft, Art or Music, Dance or Literature, find inspiration but also, solace. Whatever challenging situation we may face within ourselves or our outer worlds we can always count on our Craft to get us through it all.


Today's colour mood is ( maybe predictably ) called "Optimism".
Scheepjes Catona in Mercury, Champagne, Forst Green, Apple Green, Primrose and Candle Light.

Now, onto some GIFTING! HOORAY!
If you left a comment last week then you stood a chance in three of winning the lovely Gaudi Sidewalk Blanket by Briana K Designs. Congratulations, please do check your Ravelry Libraries!

Today's Giveaway is the gorgeous Spica Bag pattern by the awesomely talented Natalia Kononova!

Again, all you need to do to stand a chance of winning this luscious embossed bag by a super talented designer is....leave a comment and your Ravelry name! Voila, it's that easy!

I wish you all a very happy weekend wherever you are on this small blue planet.
See you in Crochetland,
πŸ’— Jen xx

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Back in the saddle...

Happy Friday, Lovelies!

It's so good to be back in Blog Land again. Ok, so I know my absence was self-imposed but it's been a tradition of mine since forever to mark my B'day Month as "downtime", a month of reflection and I guess, a time to summarise and categorise, to compartmentalise, file away...oh darn, YES, I'm a Virgo! And yes, I DO need an entire month to make sense of all that has transpired over the past B'day year. My brain hates chaos, so tying up things ( ok, that came out all wrong ) is essential before I can move on to the next year. You get it, right?

Of course, my hands itch to be occupied, so instead of mulling away the hours in pre-B'day contemplation, I made the Waresa Hexie Bundle. Sheesh, those half-hexies are quite the brain teaser! I really enjoy the challenge though. So much so, that I casually committed myself to make 10 x Hexie Bundles ( that is 1 x Full Hexie + 1 x Half Horizontal Hexie and 1 x Vertical Half Hexie. Times 10! ). Then I remembered the half hexies, then I panicked because that's A LOT of brain-teasing, then I panicked further because I'd committed myself out loud on paper and couldn't very well back out of a commitment seeing as I'm not that kinda girl and well, welcome to my world!

In between all this contemplation and downtime, I also made a start on the next Throw! This is #3 in our 4 x Blocks + 4 x Extensions Project. As I mentioned in one of the Videos, the challenge has been to create four very different Throws so that should you choose to mix and match the parts thereof you really will get very different results. Once #4 is done and dusted, I am hoping to see some very interesting mix and match Throws popping up! Besides this, I also completed my sweater. I made some mistakes and it did turn out a little on the big side but it was a learning curve and much easier than I thought making an actual wearable would be. I'm excited to explore this in more depth next year ( watch this space! ). I bumped into an old friend a few weeks ago and she asked me when I'd have time for coffee and a catch-up natter and I replied: " in about three years time?". That's the Crochet Life for you!

Today is the release of Part 1 of the Golden Tea Floral Block ( ahead of deadline ). Part 2 will be released ( ahead of deadline ), next Friday, 13 September! Now that I think of it I'm beginning to realise just how productive downtime and contemplation can be! I should really do it more often.

One thing I missed was our Friday GIVEAWAY... you know how much I like gifting! I've always enjoyed giving away "stuff" far more than I do receiving "stuff" although, to be honest here, this B'day I did actually get quite excited about the gifts I received! Two really good books: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron and The Sane Society by Erich Fromm ( made my nerdy heart beat a little faster! ) and a few other "pretty things" but the cherry on the top was...wait for it, an Apple iPad with an Apple Pencil!! I've wanted one for ages and there is a very solid reason for this which is TOP SECRET at the moment but I think you're all going to love it!

So, without further ado, today's GIVEAWAY is this truly amazing Throw designed by Briana K Designs, who was inspired by the Gaudi pavement designs in Barcelona! Wow, I was blown away by this intricate, clever design. This pattern is up for grabs for three lucky randomly picked Giveaway recipients. All you have to do is leave a comment + your Ravelry name in the comments section below.

Wishing you all a full yarn basket always! Happy weekend and see you next Friday!